Navigation Links
Are sacrificial bacteria altruistic or just unlucky?
Date:4/15/2008

HOUSTON, April 15, 2008 -- An investigation of the genes that govern spore formation in the bacteria B. subtilis shows that chance plays a significant role in determining which of the microbes sacrifice themselves for the colony and which go on to form spores.

B. subtilis, a common soil bacteria, is a well-known survivor. When running short of food, it can alternatively band together in colonies or encase itself in a tough, protective spore to wait for better times. In fact, B. subtilis is so good at making spores that it's often used as a model organism by biologists who study bacterial spore formation.

"It's too early to say whether B. subtilis is truly altruistic," said co-author Oleg Igoshin, assistant professor of bioengineering at Rice University. "What is clear from this is that not all bacteria are going to look and act the same, and that's something that can be overlooked when people either study or attempt to control bacteria with population-wide approaches."

For example, Igoshin said doctors and food safety engineers might need to amend general approaches aimed at controlling bacteria with more targeted methods that also account for the uncharacteristic individual.

The new results appear in the April 15 issue of Molecular Systems Biology. The experimental work, which was done by Jan-Willem Veening, currently at Newcastle University, and by other members of Oscar Kuipers' research group at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, focused on the B. subtilis genes that regulate both spore formation and the production cycles of two proteins -- subtilisin and bacillopeptidase. These two proteins help break apart dead cells and convert them into food. They are produced and released into the surrounding environment by B. subtilis cells that are running low on food.

From previous studies, scientists know there is some overlap between genes that control the production of the two proteins and those that control spore formation.

"Only a portion of the bacteria in a colony will form spores and only portion of the bacteria produce subtilisin, and we were interested in probing the genetic basis for this," Igoshin said. "How is it decided which cells become spores and which don't?"

Igoshin, a computational biologist, used computer simulations to help decipher and interpret the team's experimental results. He said the team found that fewer than 30 percent of individuals in a colony produce large quantities of the food-converting proteins. Even though the proteins benefit all members of the colony and help some cells to become spores, the cells that produce the proteins in bulk do not form spores themselves.

"There's a feedback loop, so that cells that start producing the proteins early get a reinforced signal to keep making them," Igoshin said. "We found that it's probabilistic events -- chance, if you will -- that dictates who is early and who is late. The early ones start working for the benefit of everyone while the later ones save valuable resources to ensure successful completion of sporulation program. Many cells will end up committing to sporulation before they had a chance to contribute to protease production"

Igoshin said a key piece of evidence confirming modeling predictions came in experiments that tracked genetically identical sister cells, some of which became protein producers and some of which didn't.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jade Boyd
jadeboyd@rice.edu
713-348-6778
Rice University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Tomato pathogen genome may offer clues about bacterial evolution
2. Researchers mimic bacteria to produce magnetic nanoparticles
3. Marine bacterias mealtime dash is a swimming success
4. Biologists surprised to find parochial bacterial viruses
5. Evolution of root nodule symbiosis with nitrogen-fixing bacteria
6. Team probes mysteries of oceanic bacteria
7. Airborne bacteria may play large role in precipitation
8. LSU scientist finds evidence of rain-making bacteria
9. Bacteria and nanofilters -- the future of clean water technology
10. Biochemists reveal details of mysterious bacterial microcompartments
11. Invisible bacteria dupe the human immune system
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/5/2017)... , April 4, 2017 KEY FINDINGS ... to expand at a CAGR of 25.76% during the ... is the primary factor for the growth of the ... https://www.reportbuyer.com/product/4807905/ MARKET INSIGHTS The global stem ... technology, application, and geography. The stem cell market of ...
(Date:4/3/2017)... 3, 2017  Data captured by IsoCode, ... detected a statistically significant association between the ... treatment and objective response of cancer patients ... predict whether cancer patients will respond to ... well as to improve both pre-infusion potency testing ...
(Date:3/30/2017)... HONG KONG , March 30, 2017 ... developed a system for three-dimensional (3D) fingerprint identification by adopting ground ... technology into a new realm of speed and accuracy for use ... applications at an affordable cost. ... ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:8/17/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 17, 2017 , ... ... cancer research and personalized medicine, today announced the launch of a new breast ... Missouri. The study’s goal is to evaluate the potential for early detection of ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... and Electrospraying line of nanofiber and nanoparticle fabrication instruments ... the lab to fully automated pilot plants and equipment for industrial manufacturing. ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... (PRWEB) , ... August 16, 2017 , ... While art ... are much more closely connected than one might think. A Mesh Is Also ... open at the University City Science Center’s Esther Klein Gallery (EKG) on August 17 ...
(Date:8/16/2017)... ... August 16, 2017 , ... ... and Drug Administration (FDA) inspection at our Dilworth, MN site. The inspection took ... This inspection was conducted as part of a routine Bioresearch Monitoring Program (BIMO) ...
Breaking Biology Technology: